YOU CAN DO ANYTHING- our own limitations exist in our mind. I never thought I start a business let alone run half a marathon (when I have never run before!)
As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Victoria Fraser.
Victoria Fraser is a Business Wellbeing Coach, who is helping individuals and business owners know themselves, follow their dreams and create more time so they have a work-life balance both internally and externally. Originally a farm girl from New Zealand, Victoria is a published International author, a teacher of business and economics and yoga instructor who has now combined these skills to reach as many people and communities as she can. Victoria’s next steps are to form a social enterprise, aimed at raising the living standards in lower socio-economic areas in need through education and business development.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?
I grew up in a very small country town called Te Awamutu, located in New Zealand. The eldest sibling of 4 children, I remember my childhood being very busy filled with outdoor activities on the farm, tending to animals, riding motorbikes, making fences and playing the fields of maize whilst looking after my younger brother and two younger sisters. I was also very active in participating in extra-curricular activities having the opportunity to try dancing, swimming, tennis, netball, and motorcross.
My parents were divorced at a young age, so I visited my Father every second weekend which was always a highlight but I did find it very difficult navigating the rivalries between two families, not quite feeling that I fit into either and that I was the cause of their turbulent emotions and accumulated pain.
I realize now this taught me the miracle of being adaptable to change and recognizing differing perspectives, which are empathetic tools I use daily when connecting with people from all backgrounds and experiences in both life and in business.
Growing up, my family members ran multiple businesses in differing industries, so it was a working culture and I saw how much time and effort goes into running a business. It is 24/7 job that takes persistence and determination to not just maintain the status quo but to also create change consistently in an ever dynamic world.
I followed these family members in awe, moving to the City to complete a Finance & Management double degree in Business where I then stayed working in businesses in roles such as admin, account management and accountancy before relocating to Melbourne. My Father tragically past away when I was 19, which me spun me down a dark path hidden to those around me, and Melbourne was my escape. However, the path got darker whilst there, and I found solace in yoga and meditation which led to winning a scholarship to become a yoga instructor.
My desire to help others in reaching their potential became undeniable, I took my experiences and knowledge and became a Secondary School teacher, teaching Business & Economics (plus getting Yoga as a timetabled subject at school).
Currently, I am still teaching and have started a business where I can reach more people in both business and wellbeing, with the ultimate of helping lower socio-economic areas in their education and development.
Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you growing up? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Reflecting back, there wasn’t one in particular however I do fondly remember the Weetbix Kids Triathlon and Drury Lane Dance Studios where I completed 10 years of Jazz Ballet and a bit of Hip Hop. Both of these organization’s allowed me to grow as a person, push me mentally, physically and took immense amounts of time, dedication and perseverance. These attributes are very important in today’s dynamic world, as the constant adversity we face both internally and externally require flexible and resilient thoughts and actions. I feel that pushing your own belief systems about what you are capable of is an extremely beneficial way to grow. I personally was never very athletic so these activities with these organization’s pushed me to break those boundaries I had confined myself too.
How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Making a difference can come from the smallest of tasks to the largest life changing adventures. It can come from having a conversation where you shine new light or provide a new perspective to the person which changes or adjusts their thinking and therefore actions in the world. All aspects of ‘Making a difference’ involve expansion or change in ones’ mental, emotional or physical outlook, allowing them to push their boundaries, belief systems and ways of living. Simply just listening to someone who needs empathetic understanding can make a difference in their life, we really don’t know what small or large feat is going to impact people. The best thing we can do is live authentically and understand we all come from different backgrounds, have experiences that shape our outlook and every single person on this earth can help another and make a difference whether you realize it or not.
Ok super. Let’s now jump to the main part of our interview. You are currently leading an organization that aims to make a social impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?
From established business owners and individuals to the youth just learning the basics, I am determined to make change in their lives through education, strategy and mindset. Through my work, I first start with the concept of ‘Know Thyself’, then ‘What Next’ and ‘How do I get There’. We all go through these life phases multiple times, where we originally might struggle with finding our place in the world, or knowing how to apply our passions and talents. This area of work is always the starting point as without knowing what makes us tick internally, the actions we take have less purpose and meaning. Once you ‘Know Thyself’, you may be confused how to apply it or where you can gain the most contentment in the world. We explore the areas of connecting with likeminded people, or starting your own venture and everything in-between. Some people are already aware of how they want to apply their passion but need some guidance on certain areas such as maximizing time, profits, out-sourcing, marketing or creating more time for more work-life balance or are ready for the next step in their lives and need a strategy to get there. In the future, I plan to connect with others and create a social-enterprise that helps in economic development and living standards from homelessness, lowering unemployment through education and helping build infrastructure where needed.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
I can’t pinpoint one specific time, other than realizing that life is short and that we must live to achieve our greatest dreams. I remember being very young, perhaps about 5–7years old and wanting to help the Children I saw on World Vision. This stemmed my original passion to help and through-out the years it continued to grow. My recent time in Qatar and seeing the inequality also highlighted this passion. In 2019, I was accompanying a group of 12 students to Cambodia and Vietnam where we had been fundraising for 1.5 years to help build infrastructure in a local Cambodian school. This project gave me so much joy and contentment knowing I was helping children across the other side of the world learn and upskill. Unfortunately, COVID19 prevented this trip happening, but I am determined to complete multiple tasks like this in the future (get in touch if you can help me make it happen)!
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
It came from a continued desire that never seemed to be fulfilled. Even within jobs I loved, I would still have this at the back of my mind. When my Dad passed away suddenly, it really highlighted the need to do what you really want to do in life, because we do not know when our time may be over. This ambition fueled with the determination and restlessness, allowed me to reach out and get the help I needed to get started. I spent a long time going inward, having completed a 10 day silent meditation retreat known as Vippassana to process and enhance my own self-awareness. This was the most profound time of my life, and during this time I won a Scholarship for Yoga Teaching, then made a decision to re-study and become a Secondary Teacher. From here, everything has continued to grow and expand, from starting my own yoga business, to learning and conducting reiki healings, to business consulting and now bringing it altogether helping people in all stages of life.
Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?
A lot of visioning! What was the VERY end goal, the ultimate vision. Then breaking it down into the smaller parts I wanted to include. From here I sought out people who had done it and upskilled in areas myself where I needed to. Getting over my own self-doubt took years, but it all came together when I got my own coach and advisor who provided an outside perspective to clarify my strategy. When you are clear about what you do and where you are going, it is much easier and faster to take action that builds momentum.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
As mentioned above, once I had finally made my mind up and took away my own self-doubts and fear of failure, it was incredible the speed of productivity and increased work capacity that took place. “You only fail when you give up’ is a quote that has kept me going. It has been a typical entrepreneurial story where I am working full-time, doing additional teaching in the weekend and creating a business around that. In this year I have also moved countries during a worldwide pandemic, bought a house, got published in an Academic Journal and got in the best physical shape of my life loosing 10kg in the process. Everything seemed to level up, once my OWN mindset and limitations were lifted. I share this as my interesting story because if you had me this a year ago, I wouldn’t have believed it myself!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?
I wouldn’t say a mistake per say, but not saving electronic documents so having to re-do a lot of work, not giving myself ‘down-time’ which impacts relationships and publishing my first website which has so many links that weren’t working! EEK! I have learnt through-out the process to still say no to work and give myself time, to check everything and to be careful when closing my laptop to avoid time wasting! Everything is a learning opportunity!
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
Absolutely! We all need coaches, mentors and guides because we are forever learning. There are always people that have done or are doing exactly what you want to do. If you are constantly upskilling, you are constantly learning and therefore can provide more value and skills to your customers and people around you. A valuable mentor that I have had, was an elderly gentleman who took away my own self-doubts as I couldn’t see my own talents. He not only convinced me that I had the credibility, skills and experience but constantly keeps me accountable by checking in. I advise everyone to have a coach or mentor for different areas of life. I have coaches for my physical body, marketing, my business and mindset. They are all experts and can provide their expertise for me to reach my goals.
Without saying specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Expanding on the above, you don’t realize how simple words of encouragement can impact someone’s perseverance. My hairdresser featured me on her newsletter and that small act was so kind and thoughtful, it gave me an additional boost to keep going because people do believe in me. We all go through these periods, where we may be exhausted or over it, but remembering small interactions and comments are so helpful. So don’t forget to give them out and acknowledge all the wonderful things people are doing around you!
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
I believe in giving back, and once you figure something out, turn around and help someone up to your spot. Having programmes, grants and mentoring for a subsidized cost and readily available can help people get their foot in their door and get started. It is also helping the business owners providing those products or services to give back and build their own business up.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of the interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each).
- YOU CAN DO ANYTHING- our own limitations exist in our mind. I never thought I start a business let alone run half a marathon (when I have never run before!)
- Your mindset is your number one factor in making your dreams come true (If you believe it, you can achieve it).
- It all starts with a clear vision (There’s no point walking, if you don’t know where you are going).
- Perseverance is the key, eventually it all clicks (To climb a mountain, it all starts with one step, after the other).
- Always keep learning and growing. Never settle.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
You never know who you are a ray of sunshine too which could dramatically cause their life to change and how they can then pay it forward to impact someone else.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to sit down with anyone working in the humanitarian organization space. Dane Hart is a local at Engineers Without Borders who is doing incredible things in this space as well as Edgar Sandoval who is the CEO of World Vision in the US. Their knowledge and expertise in this area is my dream where I can extend my skills out and help make an impact even more.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can find me at www.victoriafraser.co.nz , on Instagram and facebook @Victoriafrasernz and LinkedIN Victoria Fraser
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!